- Photo by Mark Sheldon
- Front row: Robert Montgomery, Wes's son; row two: Fareed Haque, Russell Malone, Serene Montgomery, Wes's mother, Dave Stryker, Royce Campbell, Henry Johnson; row three: Zev Feldman, Willie Jones lll, Luke Sellick, Rick Germanson
Indy Jazz Fest 2016 opened Sept. 15 with a rousing party at Indiana Landmarks Center, with Rob Dixon leading two configurations of veteran players showcasing what's in store over the ensuing week. Players from all corners joined with Indiana's established and emerging jazz community in a farranging tribute to native son Wes Montgomery.
Considered the best guitarist of the 20th century, the fullscope Montgomery oeuvre is just now emerging as Robert Montgomery and Zev Feldman of Resonance Records sleuth throughout the world for Wes Montgomery recordings that have been stashed away and forgotten. Augmenting the albums brought out earlier this year, Resonance Records is planning three more albums from recorded materials found in Paris and cities across the U.S.
"This moment for my dad is huge," said Robert Montgomery, in remarks opening the 18th annual Indianapolis Jazz Fest. "We've got some of the greatest talent here in Indianapolis. I'm watching for what happens next. Jazz is still alive, still fluent, still moving. Pass it on."
"It's an honor to be involved with Indiana and Wes Montgomery," said Feldman. "I travel the world. I'm very impressed how Indiana embraces and nurtures jazz. It's very exciting for me to be at my first Indy Jazz Fest. When I've come before, it's been to do research and album releases." During a conversation Feldman added he's still looking for any materials on Wes Montgomery.
"I welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone who can add to the legacy of Wes Montgomery. I am blessed to be working with Robert Montgomery and his family and the friends and colleagues of Wes."
The kickoff event brought together the wide range of Indy Jazz Fest supporters. Membership for yearlong support, events, notices and perks of doing good are open to everyone at indyjazzfest.com.
Friday, after the ISO POPS season opening program, we dashed to Jazz Kitchen to catch the second set by Yasser Tejeda and Palotre's AfroDominican Jazz Quartet and experienced double digit wows in one fell swoop.
Tejeda's compositions deliver a savory mix of Dominican traditional music, particularly merengue and bachata, marked by traditional instruments seasoned with modern rock and fusion, layered upon Latin jazz. Best I could determine, joining Tejeda on guitar were Otoniel Nicolas on drums and percussion, Juan Fernandez on percussion and Virgilio Feliz on electric bass. The foursome artfully teased melody from a percussive center, twining dancerly movement with a reflective voice.
On Sept. 18, the Russell Malone quartet owned the Jazz Kitchen with an amazing, inspiring tribute to Wes Montgomery. Since his 1988 debut with Jimmy Smith, followed by impressive stints with Harry Connick, Jr. and Diana Krall, Malone's succeeding professional biography reads like a who's who of everyone at the top of the world of jazz. Premiering his latest composition, Malone took us on a delightful journey from his roots in gospel and blues into jazz. A self-proclaimed disciple of Wes Montgomery, Malone's playing emulates the zest that makes Montgomery's compositions not only timeless, but timely.
Working in the same breadth of virtuosity marked by their individual homage and sparkle were Rick Germanson on piano, Luke Sellick on bass and Willie Jones III on percussion.Watching Robert Montgomery's face as he was absorbed into the program was a gift of the greatest kind. Jazz, live at the Jazz Kitchen, touches heart and soul.
I missed Pavel & Direct Contact at Central Library on Sept. 18, but a report from an audience member assured me, the Trio [Pavel, Steve Dokken and Raul Padro] got everyone excited and into the energy of Latin jazz.
There's much more jazz goodness still to come this week, including:
Ravi Coltrane Quartet
Sept. 21, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., The Jazz Kitchen
Indy Jazz Fest Band tribute to "The Indianapolis Sound."
Sept. 22, 7 p.m.
University of Indianapolis Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center
Sullivan Fortner Trio
Sept. 23, 7 p.m and 9:30 p.m. The Jazz Kitchen:
Farrelly Marloewicz Jazz Quartet and the Red Hot Whiskey Sippers
Sept. 23, 6 p.m., Dallara IndyCar Factory
Sept. 23, 8 p.m. and Sept. 24, 7 p.m.
The Cabaret at the Columbia Club
Block Party 2016
Sept. 24, 3 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.
at the corner of 54th and College, Broad Ripple
(Editor's Note: This article was graciously boosted on social media by Indy Jazz Fest [IndyJazzFest.net]. Indy Jazz Fest had no input on the content in this article or the decision to create it.)